We do need to keep vigil for our democracy. This happens every Thursday, Alexandria roundabout
I’ve hemmed pretty far to the government side. This is partly because they’re ‘winning’, and mostly I see no alternative to working within our own democracy to rebuild. When I came back to Sri Lanka I came because of the cease-fire and because I thought we’d start to rebuild. There is so much potential here and I’m quite passionate about it. However, whatever dividend we get from eliminating the LTTE can be cocked up in many ways.
I think Rajapakse’s stated plan is to hold elections and shovel development money into the North and the East. That’s good and I hope they can do it. Trust but verify. The US conducted wars ‘well’ in Iraq and Afghanistan and totally messed up the end-game, multiple times. It’s obviously quite possible, perhaps even likely. I still believe that we have to support the government we have and try.
The word is much abused. The US doesn’t have a terrorist problem as much as one major terrorist attack. Sri Lanka has endured more suicide bombings than Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Qaeda combined. We have a terrorist problem.
Right now the LTTE hardcore are cornered behind human shields in a few kilometers of land. Unlike AfPak, the border between here and friendlier places like Tamil Nadu and Thailand is not so porous, so hopefully that scenario will play out. However, many cadres have mixed in with the civilian population and there are many people who are suffering and humiliated under the armed forces.
I have personally met and seen children who have lost parents and limbs to shelling and I can fully understand if they grow up angry. We have to reach out and prevent that.
In the simplest form you can just keep the displaced people in camps, give them no rights or ability to organize let alone arm and, also, eliminate young agitated men (or allow them to eliminate each other). I fear this real cynical politic will be the one, but there are better ways.
To me, the real indicator of ‘winning the war’ is implementing our Constitution. In many ways, the Constitution is Sri Lanka more than territory. Our rights and rule of law are currently suspended under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the real sign of victory and security is when that act is repealed.
Parliament votes on it every month. When that vote comes up Nay is when the war and ethnic conflict will truly be over.
Until then, we live in effectively a police state. Citizens, especially Tamil, do not have their full rights under law. There are numerous and public abuses by the powerful. The free press and freedom of speech are under systematic attack. For any proper Sri Lankan life we do need our Constitution back.
Note that this is not a Northern or Tamil issue, it’s a Sri Lankan one. While the people in internment camps do not have their civil rights, the people in the South don’t either.
Warmakers are not necessarily good lawmakers or (literal) bridge builders. The Rajapakse government has not been managing the economy well and this is only hidden in the fog of war. Perhaps even more than civil rights, Sri Lankans need some money in their pockets to contain the unrest that’s plagued the place since independence.
There need to be massive development projects in the North and East, without massive corruption. Tamil people need to be directly, involved, employed and invested in these projects. There are also a massive amount of soldiers and Sri Lankans of all races to involve. And the accompanying tensions. In developing the North the government also has to be especially sensitive to fears of colonization. At the same time, however, no parts of Sri Lanka should remain monoethnic for its own sake.
Containing The International Cockupalypse
Basically Sri Lanka is getting hammered in the international media and the Rajapakse regime doesn’t have the finesse for much diplomacy. I think the ‘International Community’ is getting most of this wrong and that they really should encourage the end of the LTTE and get a stakeholder position in whatever fucked up, half-assed reconstruction we have going. At the same time, it is important that they are highlighting the plight of civilians, cause left alone many Sri Lankans wouldn’t care. That said, they are rather tone deaf about it and somewhat overestimating their own power.
These dudes think the Cold War is over but they don’t realize how much power the West has dissipated after the Bush years. They honestly have very little moral or financial say here. Note that I’m talking about America here, which, whatever the rest of the West may think, is pretty much the face.
To sum it up crudely, they say run a just war, fuck off, like 100,000 people died in the Iraq War and they weren’t even attacking your country. They say we’ll cut off your funding, fuck off, US gave like $7 million in aid last year while China gave like $1 billion.
The Rajapakse can actually say fuck off with some justification, but that doesn’t actually make it good diplomacy. China and Iran aren’t actually our friends per se, they actually have their own interests. Not that the West doesn’t, but I think their ideas are more in line with a better life for our people. And God knows we need development aid to bring this country anywhere near its great potential.
More potently, Tamil Nadu is crazy pissed off and they can actually fund the LTTE, offer safe haven and cause all manner of trouble. We need to work with these guys, give them some stake in rebuilding so that they’ll chill out on the destroy and separate thing. Plus the diaspora. These guys all look irrelevant, but in the long run they’re shit scary and destabilizing.
Right now the Rajapakses have their foot on the accelerator and they’re shit scared to take it off. Not just cause they hate the LTTE so much, but this war fever they’ve stirred up can quite literally kill them. SWRD Bandaranaike rode Sinhala nationalism to power, but when he tried to compromise a Sinhala nationalist monk shot him. Riding the Lion is not that much better than riding the Tiger, I mean, it works, but it’s also a wild animal that will fuck you up like Siegfried and Roy.
Unfortunately, actually developing and securing the country does involve compromising with a shitload of people. It’s not as simple as steamrolling through land with a bunch of guns.
Granted, crushing the LTTE does remove one huge destabilizing force (albeit for how long who knows), but stabilizing is still not easy. Do I think the current government has the finesse for it? Not really. I mean, these guys are still assholes. But I think we have to take a shot. Are they going to mess it up, probably, but I hope they don’t fail.
I don’t want this government to fail because I don’t want my country to fail. I’ll vote for the opposition, but I really hope these guys can do it.